ADA
Elder/Dependent adult abuse
Photo of an elder adult

The population in America is aging. Of the 281 million Americans, 27% are 50 and older. The courts are seeing more and more assaults, neglect, financial abuse of older people and situations where older Americans can no longer care for themselves.

The Court also sees many adults who have physical or developmental disabilities or failing physical or mental abilities caused by age. Their conditions often make it hard for them to do normal activities or to protect their rights. These people are called dependent adults.

This section tells you about:

  1. What is elder or dependent adult abuse?
  2. How do I report elder or dependent adult abuse?
  3. Who has to report elder or dependent adult abuse?
  4. What is FAST?
  5. How a Restraining Order can help protect you against elder or dependent adult abuse

Also see Elder Abuse Prevention/Reporting Resources on the RO Resources page

  1. What is elder or dependent adult abuse?

    In general terms, it is when someone mistreats an elderly person or a dependent adult, whether or not that person is at home or in an institution. In California, elder or dependent adult abuse is a crime. Someone who abuses an elderly person or dependent adult can go to prison or jail and be fined. (Welfare and Institutions Code 15656 ) The most common kinds of elder or dependent adult abuse are:

    Physical Causing pain or injury, using unreasonable physical restraints, or not allowing the person enough food or water.
    Psychological Causing mental pain, like humiliating, intimidating or threatening.
    Sexual Sexual assault, rape
    Financial Using an elderly or dependent person’s money or property illegally or improperly without their consent for someone else's benefit
    Abandonment When someone deserts an elderly person or dependent adult they are caring for.
    Neglect When a caregiver does not take reasonable care of the elderly or dependent adult they are supposed to.
    Abduction Taking an elderly or dependent adult out of the state if that person does not have the capacity to give consent to the move.
    Isolation Intentionally preventing an elderly person or dependent adult from receiving mail, telephone calls or seeing visitors.
    Self-neglect When an elderly person does not care for him/herself to the point that his/her health and safety are at risk.


  2. Can anyone report elder or dependent adult abuse?

    Yes. To report abuse in Santa Clara County or talk about a situation that concerns you, contact:

    Adult Protective Services (APS) 
    Department of Aging and Adult Services
    Santa Clara County Social Service Agency
    400-928-3860 , or Toll-free: 800-414-2002 

    APS also:
    • Investigates reports of elder or dependent adult abuse
    • Responds to emergencies when the victim needs medical attention, medications, shelter, food, housekeeping, electricity and heat, and short-term help after the immediate crisis
    • Works with the Public Guardian, District Attorney, County Counsel and local law enforcement to decide if a case should be filed and prosecuted
    • Has bilingual staff to help translate
  3. Who has to report elder or dependent adult abuse?

    The law says some people must report any elder or dependent adult abuse they see or suspect. (Welfare and Institutions Code 15630 )

    These people must report abuse:

    • Anyone who cares for an elderly person, whether at home or in an institution
    • Employees of any social service agency
    • Health Practitioners
    • Law Enforcement

    The identity of the person reporting the abuse is always kept confidential.

  4. What is FAST?

    In the Santa Clara Valley where homes sell quickly and for extraordinary prices, the Department of Aging and Adult Services has formed a team (Financial Abuse Specialist Team – FAST) to respond quickly to instances of financial abuse.

    FAST teams are made up of people from the Public Guardian's Office, APS, District Attorney's Office, County Counsel's Office and local law enforcement.

    To contact FAST, call: 408-928-3860 , or 800-414-2002  (toll free)

  5. How a Restraining Order can help protect you against elder or dependent adult abuse

    Learn how to ask for an Elder or Dependent Abuse Restraining Order.
© 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara